In the Driver's Seat
Barbara Miller, executive vice president of the Central Florida Auto Dealers Association, pitched the idea for the center to SCC 's Jim Cox (background).
Seminole Community College opens the doors this month to its Professional Automotive Training Center, a $6.5-million facility that's been 10 years in the making.
The Sanford/Lake Mary campus has long housed an award-winning department that trains aspiring automotive technicians and offers required refresher courses. The department was named tops in the nation last year. But beginning Jan. 19, classes now scattered around the campus will come under one roof in the 52,000-sq.-ft. facility, which includes a showroom and an automotive shop big enough for 40 cars.
About 120 are enrolled in SCC's program, but that number is expected to grow to 160 next fall and 200 in 2008, department head Jim Cox says. The program's eight full-time instructors also train 2,100 technicians who come for continuing education each year.
The new building marks a milestone for local automotive dealers, who kicked in almost $4 million toward the center and pushed for matching funds from the state. It's the brainchild of Barbara Miller (pictured at right), executive vice president of the Central Florida Auto Dealers Association, which will have office space in the building.
"She knew the need the dealers were going to have for trained technicians," says SCC President Ann McGee.
New-car dealerships, Miller says, will need an average of 30,000 new technicians a year nationwide to replace retiring mechanics and fill new jobs.